In my last two blogs I discussed AP vs AICE vs IB and high school course planning. Today , let’s look at Dual Enrollment- the opportunity to take classes at your local community college.
Let’s discuss whether Dual-Enrollment is right for you!
BOTTOM LINE- There is no reason to take a course at your local college or within your state’s dual-enrollment program when the same course is offered at the high school as an AP course. Doing so suggests you were hesitant (scared?) to take the AP exam – the only way that an admissions officer can compare students across the country using the same admissions metric.
Dual enrollment is useful for high lever (200 +) courses or to explore something you cannot at your high school.
Some of my current juniors have expressed an interest in Dual-Enrollment courses. You may be interested in the University of Florida’s course offerings and I share the link for your review:
Please review potential classes and give me a shout out to explore how a specific course might fit into your strategic educational plan. It’s important to have very clear reasons for enrolling in any course, but especially an online course as these are not always reviewed favorably by admissions representatives at the most competitive colleges.
Rising seniors should only consider courses that truly interest you and the opportunity to swap something out of your high school curriculum. Above all, aim for something you cannot take at your high school. This isn’t a substitution process- but an enrichment opportunity.
If you are certain you plan to attend UF, FSU or a college within the Florida system, taking English as a Dual-Enrollment class as opposed to attempting a “5” on AP Lang/Lit would potentially offer a great chance of earning transfer credit towards freshman English as a Florida college student. As a rule- attempting to take English at a local community college instead of taking AP English – is will be less of an educational experience that you deserve– don’t do that!
Given my experience as a University Professor, please keep in mind, the most competitive colleges outside of Florida will not likely accept online credits as transfer classes, and this is especially true for STEM classes.
For rising sophomores and juniors, Dual-Enrollment is an opportunity to possibly experience learning about an interesting subject matter not offered at your high school. There are many communications, finance, psychology, criminal justice, politics, arts and advanced mathematics courses (beyond AP Calc BC) that are really quite interesting and worthy of exploration. But I cannot state too many times- do not replace an AP course with dual enrollment courses- it will appear as though you took the easy route- and that is exactly true.
If you don’t see any courses of interest please contact me to discuss some other competitive online programs available to high school students. Several selective universities offer online courses to high school students- again- select those courses that you cannot take thru AP coursework.
COLLEGE MAJORS –
A Different Question from COLLEGE CHOICE
I work with students throughout the US and there is some version of South Florida’s “Academy” or “Choice” program nearly everywhere. To middle school families, these programs look inviting and yes, there are electives that expose young adults to subject matter and readings outside the core curriculum. If you review suggested “high school curricula” at admissions websites, you’ll not find “Academies” noted. These are considered “electives”.
So, what is the value of these electives?!
Their value to 9th and 10th grade students is ongoing academy discovery. By 11th or 12th grades, these classes aren’t as academically challenging nor as valuable to a successful transition to the undergraduate experience as enrolling in more challenging AP classes.
The core subject matter can spark or solidify an interest. Repeating- I have yet to find one student who indicates the concepts in these courses or the workload have been challenging. Interesting yes– challenging– not so much!
However, if you are working on an academic assignment/project that has the potential for submission to a science fair, essay contest or the like – these elective courses can be enriching and valuable additions to the curriculum. ASK YOUR TEACHER for support! Many of the business and engineering/tech and law “choice” programs have assignments that can launch into an entry in competitive venues.
Let me assist you in shaping your course planning for high school to achieve an appropriate balance of challenging and interesting courses.
CONFIRM EXAM REGISTRATIONS:
Please review your College Board and ACT accounts to ensure that registration has been completed for all SAT/ACT and for April, May and June. Yes, invariably some registrations are not accomplished as intended.
*** The test optional list we had experienced in the current admissions cycle will continue for many colleges. Some Ivy League universities just confirmed they are extending policies for students in the classes of 2023 and 2024.
I continue to encourage all families to focus on having students self-manage all their registrations,
I urge all students to take two practice tests under timed conditions.
TESTING ACCOMMODATIONS: Current 9th and 10th grade students with testing accommodations/504 plans should begin the process now of registering with both the College Board (SAT) and ACT
All students should revise and update their “Activities Statement/Resume/Brag Sheet” to reflect all activities both formal and informal.
Juniors Your Activities Statement is an essential step in building the contents for the first draft of the required section of your Common Application on Activities.
For those of you perfecting term papers and projects, keep in mind your best work may be suitable for submission to a variety of state and national essay competitions (and scholarship applications during the admissions cycle in your senior year).
I look forward to discussing and reading any of your papers you would like to share. Please don’t under-estimate yourself! Competition venues are available in business, STEM, humanities, poetry, legal issues and more.
If you’re a Junior now is the time to be actively engaged in research on the variety of college majors. Working with your college advisor, please aim to have your balanced short-list of colleges in place by the time we reach June – and hopefully you’ll be joining me at my June Writers Block Workshop.
In June 2020 and 2021 we successfully pivoted and delivered our workshop, including one-on-one personalized writing conferences entirely on Zoom. Adaptability is always essential when faced with an unforeseen challenge.
Spaces are limited. We hope you’ll join us! But prior to workshop- we have much to accomplish- learning about what major may be a good fit for you and becoming involved in that area of interest so you know more about yourself and can demonstrate on your applications the essential “informed interest”.
High School Planning- AP vs IB vs AICE – YOUR COURSES for 2022-23!
As noted, your student’s GPA and transcript are the most significant determinant of admissions and academic success. High school is a time for academic and personal discovery. Developing and sustaining a passion for learning cannot be overstated. Sometimes that discovery is sparked by coursework and other times it is through an extracurricular experience.
There’s very little variation in curriculum options across high schools in that all students will complete four years of english, four years of social studies, complete a foreign language and enroll in the math and science classes at a level they can manage.
The differences across high schools and across students are in the electives taken and in whether students enroll in Honors or AP/IB/AICE levels of classes.
Don’t waste your electives ! Senior Priv – is nothing of the sort- you are eliminating an opportunity to learn!
As a former university faculty admissions representative, I’ve reviewed many undergraduate and graduate admissions files. As a Cornell Alumni Rep, I’ve interviewed and met students who at times were amazing and other times – terribly misguided and woefully unprepared (disinterested?) That made my job more challenging. The decision to be made reviewing a student’s admissions file isn’t easy- there’s tens of thousands of applicants who have basically completed the same high school curriculum, attained the same GPA and achieved the same standardized test scores.
As a former college admissions officer I can tell you without qualification that spending your time throughout high school engaged in activities that hone and deepen academic and personal interests will bring more joy to your days and increase your chances of college acceptances — very simply — because you will have spent your time in meaningful and impactful ways that demonstrate a young adult eager to learn and become a part of something — a community of shared purpose.
Every year, I meet no fewer than a dozen seniors who delayed their college planning until the fall of their senior year– sometimes they are very strong students arriving at their initial appointment with me with their short lists of highly selective colleges in hand. It’s not easy to share my assessment of “chances” – I need to be brutally honest. Chances that would have been higher if we had talked about college plans much sooner than their senior year. A 4.0 GPA, and a pile of 5s on AP exams is insufficient to gain a spot at an Ivy League or other highly selective university. The single most glaring example is a lack of hands-on experience in the intended major field of study.
Discovery and joyful experiences occur within classrooms and in extracurricular experiences. Extracurricular opportunities take place
1) within high school clubs,
2) community organizations ,
3) summer collegiate programs and
4) self- directed participation in competitions and contests — available in every discipline- (read on…)
I can guarantee you that there’s no magic formula for being accepted into a selective university, and any college advisor two tells you otherwise is being less than authentic with you. I can guarantee you that building an Educational & College Admissions Plan as early as eighth grade will greatly increase the likelihood of a student who is intrinsically motivated and prepared for academic success. Students with goals and dreams are better students and live their high school years with greater ease than those who haven’t set some objectives.
College Admissions Planning What’s Next?
Review your current classes and make adjustments to learning strategies and time management? Do you need practical solutions to handle difficult classes – schedule a strategic academic consultation!
Now is the perfect time to determine and refine the most effective academic plan to include the appropriately challenging and relevant courses given potential academic interests. It’s important to avoid becoming unnecessarily overwhelmed. Maintenance of a GPA which allows for a healthy balance of academic, extracurricular and personal pursuits will increase the likelihood of a successful transition to college and admissions success. You do not need to enroll in 6-7 AP Classes. If you’re looking at a highly selective university- I also discourage Dual Enrollment classes (see above)
Refine extracurricular activities to include a relevant summer plan! Update your activities resume. Think about ways to deepen an interest and let-go of those activities that do not bring you joy.
Select appropriate courses for the balance of your high school year that prepare you for success, offer enjoyment and prepare you for relevant standardized testing required for colleges on your radar.
Determine your standardized testing schedule, including your self-directed regular test preparation for AP exams, and SAT/ACT exams. AP exams are going to take on a greater role (sadly) in college admissions as the SATII subject tests were recently eliminated. Did you miss my recent newsletter- — contact me to request another copy.
There’s no place like home. Where is your academic home?! That is your path to success!
What are your student’s
academic and social goals this year?
What motivates your student? Successful students are intrinsically motivated!
What positive and welcomed
steps can parents take to help students remain motivated towards goals?
Success begins with a student-led Strategic Educational & College Admissions Plan with actionable items!
SCHEDULE YOUR EDUCATIONAL and COLLEGE ADMISSIONS ASSESSMENT
STEM College Admissions – Pre-Med, Engineering, Computer Science, Math College Applications
If financial or family situations changed since you submitted your FAFSA – please reach out and I can assist with amending/explaining your FAFSA / CSS Profile and working with your admissions reps. I handle successful appeals of financial aid award letters – that process occurs in April. Please reach out AFTER your acceptances and award letters arrive to engage in “negotiation”.
Over the next six weeks , this is a great time to reassess your college fit and major choices. Colleges are doing a great job not only with virtual admissions presentations as I’ve noted – but this is a time to make virtual connections with current students and alumni. Let me help you assess your fit.
JUNIORS ’23 and Sophomores ’24
It’s time to plan for summer . I hope you found my previous newsletter helpful in understanding why attendance at a summer program is a great college planning strategy. I have a comprehensive list of summer programs for all fields of study.
Many colleges are offering several new research programs this year and classes can be completed remotely- a huge savings in room and board.
Your “Mid-Year Assessment” provides a valuable initial step to creating your strategic educational plan and more clearly understanding the
College Admission and Financial Aid Processes.
Understand the College Admissions Process- Key Dates, forms and factors for success in admissions and in maximizing financial aid.
Create your curriculum map of high school and online programs to reach academic potential and prepare for success as a student and in the college admissions process. The foundation of coursework in high school impacts your success as an undergraduate
Extracurricular Activities: Identify opportunities for enhancing and refining your activities addressing educational and admissions red-flags. Embrace your strengths, take risks and discover uncharted paths!
Recommendations for relevant summer programs to increase your admissions chances and confirm / discover an academic area of interest
Personalized learning strategies to confidence, increase grades and address concerns in one or more classes. Customized solutions for better time management
Recommendations for Colleges and Majors(conventional and “unusual”)
Clarity on standardized testing (and customized solutions for preparation) and discussion of colleges de-emphasizing their value in admissions decision making
Activities Resume – Receive proprietary tools to build an eye-catching “activities statement” supporting your summer program applications, Common Application and Scholarship applications.
Understanding the Real Cost of Education. Specific Strategies for your family and an explanation of Financial Aid and Scholarship Eligibility.
Followed by our popular and well attended Sunday Fall Series – Resuming On-Demand Bi-weekly in fall
COLLEGE APPLICATION and COLLEGE ESSAY WORKSHOP WORKSHOP GOAL
Build a College Admissions Strategy,
Complete your Common Application Core Essay
Before the Workshop
INCREASE YOUR CHANCES of ADMISSION- PRE-COLLEGE ACADEMIC ADVISING and ADMISSIONS STRATEGY:
Attend your scheduled Educational & Admissions Assessment to understand the college admissions and financial aid processes. Participate in discussions during your extensive educational analysis aimed at matching you to majors and colleges, increasing your chances of admission, easing your transition to college, and ensuring your long-term academic success.
identifying majors & colleges, personalized application strategies, a detailed assessment of your admissions portfolio and much more.
During the Workshop
PERSONAL WRITING CONFERENCES:
throughout the week provide you with candid and specific feedback focused on completing your required Common Application Core essay to showcase your strengths and set you apart from other applicants. Students who come prepared to engage, and complete their overnight assignments will leave the workshop with a polished final draft of their core essay and begin work on a secondary essay to adapt for your college-specific supplemental essays.
In June 2020 we adapted and delivered our workshop entirely on Zoom – including daily presentatoins and one-on-one individual writing conferences. We don’t yet know if we’ll be in-person or online- but are ready to achieve our workshop goals in either format.
CREATE YOUR ACTIVITIES RESUME and
Common Application Activities Statement to highlight your accomplishments for admissions, references, scholarships and admission interviews. Receive proprietary activities resume template.
After the Workshop
Ongoing support and guidance with college-specific supplemental essays.
Arrive prepared with your laptop ready to work during daytime sessions and complete any overnight assignments.
Students of all academic levels are welcome to attend our small group sessions in a supportive and welcoming setting. We meet daily.
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. is the founder and principal educational consultant of College Career Consulting, LLC. She has over 30 years of experience as a university faculty member and shares her knowledge, professional resources and support with students who are ready to advance their lifelong educational and career journeys.